Space Rocket Launch.
As a young child, like many others, I always wanted to be an astronaut. As this seemed to be out of my reach I decided that I would one day like to go to Kennedy Space Centre in Florida & see a live Space Rocket Launch.
I have, over the years, been lucky enough to visit the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida many times. I actually ended up buying an apartment in Cape Canaveral which I owned for a few years. I could stand at the front door & watch the rocket launches over the houses between me & the launch pad about 8 miles away. I don't remember seeing a launch as a child when I visited with my mum, dad & sister but I have seen a lot since then.
Living in Orlando for a few years meant it was easy to drive up to the beach every time a rocket or the Space Shuttle was due to launch & I did this to watch the launches from Cocoa Beach on many occasions. On another occasion, I arranged to get on a limited admission bus tour of the Space Centre which took me & my friend, Neil, right underneath launch pad 39b where the Shuttle used to launch from & from where SpaceX now launches its rockets into space from.
Space Shuttle launch from Kennedy.
When I owned my house in Orlando I used to visit 2 or three times a year & would go out for my dad's birthday every year. We would play golf on his birthday, at our favourite golf course, The Savannahs, at Sykes Creek, then go to Hooters at Cocoa for lunch. We also went to see rockets launch at the beach a few times but on one occasion I surprised my dad by getting tickets to see a launch from Kennedy Space Centre.
We spent the morning at the visitor centre before it was closed for the day. We were then transported by bus to a raised seating area looking directly across the water at the launch pad. We were told that the only people closer to the launch were the astronauts themselves. The launch took off a bit late & it was quite late by the time we headed home. I was glad we had gone to the Centre to see the launch though as it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity & one I know both me & my dad would always remember.
John Glenn Space Shuttle launch.
In 1998 I was in Orlando with my friend Martin & we had the opportunity to go & see John Glenn become the oldest man to fly in space when he joined the crew of the Shuttle Discovery. We got three tickets & along with our friend Ray who used to be our taxi driver in Orlando. We went to Titusville to go & watch the launch from a viewing point there.
We left early & got a good spot to park in the private viewing area & whilst Ray went back to sleep, Martin & I had a walk around Titusville where we ended up playing killer pool in a local bar before heading back to the viewing area. When we left, the car park had been relatively quiet but when we got back it was full. Ray's van was a beat-up old wreck really & he didn't mind that we climbed on the roof of his van to get an even better view over the tops of the cars in front of us.
The launch of STS-95 all went off well & John Glenn went back to space on October 29th 1998 after originally being the 3rd American ever to go into space in 1968. To this day I still have my commemorative newspaper & commemorative first edition stamps that we were given when we bought the tickets to see the launch.
Cocoa Beach & Cape Canaveral Beach.
I have seen lots of rocket launches from both Cape Canaveral beach & Cocoa beach. Many times I would just drive up for the day, other times I would stop for a couple of days.
When I had my apartment at Cape Canaveral I watched launches from the beach a few times. One time when my mum came with me in 2011 to stay at my apartment, we walked to the beach for the launch. On another occasion when I stayed in my apartment for 3 months I remember sitting in my apartment watching a live countdown on the television & as the countdown got down to 5 seconds, I walked to my front door, went outside & watched the launch from my front door.
Launch Pad 39b.
When I was selling my apartment in Cape Canaveral I stayed in my apartment for 3 months before it sold. I invited my friend Neil Scott to come & stay for a while. Whilst he was staying with me for a week I managed to get some tickets to do a tour of the Kennedy Space Centre which took us to places normally the public can't get to. We visited Kennedy Space Centre but also got taken on a bus to go into & around the rocket assembly building & then out to the launch pad that the shuttle used to take off from & and where the new SpaceX rockets would launch.
It was amazing to stand directly underneath the launch pad, even the bus we got there on was dwarfed by the launch pad & gantry. You really can't understand how big it is when you are standing miles away from it, being underneath it really gave me some idea of how big launch pad 39b really is.